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United States Government Politics

Lessig Launches Open Transition Principles 129

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the change-is-coming-in-the-form-of-nickels-and-dimes dept.
soDean writes "The Principles for an Open Transition and a petition were co-launched by Lawrence Lessig, Mozilla, and the Participatory Culture Foundation today. This was in reaction to the announcement that Obama would be posting his transition videos to YouTube. The petition encourages Obama to publish his transition videos with open licenses, make them available for download, and preferably use royalty free/open video formats and standards. Unless YouTube makes some radical changes, the videos will need to be hosted elsewhere."
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Lessig Launches Open Transition Principles

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  • Lessig sounds like he's writing letters to Santa...

    • As a big fan of Lessig, I completely agree :)

      Hmm... angry letters to Santa from RMS. I think I see a book deal (All of you are now under non-disclosure!!! j/k)
  • Since gnash can play youtube video, this isn't a restriction in practice. Much ado about very little.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by CRCulver (715279)
      Can you? For me, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. And even when it does work, I've still got that stupid Play symbol superimposed over the video after I click it.
      • by MightyYar (622222)

        To be honest, I just use the free flash player - I'm just going by what I've seen people claim. For embedded youtube I know people have used greasemonkey scripts, but I thought youtube.com worked fine.

        If I get one I want to keep, ffmpeg does a good job converting them. It's even built-in to the downloadhelper extension for firefox. Once you download the FLV, there are a number of options for viewing.

    • by dmbasso (1052166)

      Since gnash can play youtube video, this isn't a restriction in practice. Much ado about very little.

      Yep, it is a restriction in principle. But most of you, citizens of the US, don't seem to care about principles anymore. What a shame...

      Here, bend over, I'll give you a candy.

      • by MightyYar (622222)

        I'm not saying that principles aren't important, but talk about scratching at the scab instead of curing the disease...

        Obama releasing his videos under this or that yadda, yadda does very little to reform anything at all. A huge portion of the population completely disregards copyright and patent law and instead of offering up any kind of a solution to that, we yell about how Obama needs to conform to something that most Americans will just ignore? Silly and a waste of time.

        But hey, go for it. I'm sure some

        • by nabsltd (1313397)

          Obama releasing his videos under this or that yadda, yadda does very little to reform anything at all.

          The point isn't really to make sure that FOSS users can watch the videos.

          The point is to make the new administration aware of something important that maybe they haven't thought about. Although there are many workarounds that allow you to save a YouTube video, it's not something YouTube really advertises. So, when somebody posts something to YouTube that is intended to be freely shareable, there are actually some restrictions added to it that make it less easy to share.

          In theory, it's possible that these

          • I agree. The issue is that they should be released from the horses mouth in a non restrictive format and license.. There's no problem with someone putting them up on youtube as well, that will be a great way to access them for a lot of people, but the freedom that the US citizens should get will be from the original sources, which isn't possible if they're just distributed through youtube
    • Since gnash can play youtube video, this isn't a restriction in practice. Much ado about very little.

      I agree. Youtube is perfectly fine for pretty much anyone with the bandwidth to view the videos.

      Obama offered to do this; he is not obligated. If given something for free, one ought not complain and simply not accept that which has been offered.

  • Stupid... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by i kan reed (749298) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @12:25PM (#25976237) Homepage Journal

    I'm not a lawyer, but I'm also fairly certain that copyrightable material produced by the federal government of the United States is automatically public domain and could not be placed under a more restrictive license such as any copyleft. The office of the president elect is under the purview of the General Services Administration, and I imagine would be under similar requirements.

    • Can't he also release them to multiple websites?
      Ogg (or what ever the completely open format the cool kids are using these days) on some .gov site and the locked down .flv on YouTube. Most of the populous will view them on YouTube because it's easy and the FOSS hard core still get what they wanted.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        I know it was rhetorical, but the options are:

        Video codecs:
        - Dirac -- possibly patent-encumbered, but officially free to use
        - Theora -- might be untested, but claims to be patent-free.

        Audio codecs:
        - Vorbis -- sounds as good as AAC on most listening tests; open/free/pantent-free.
        - FLAC -- lossless, and as free as Vorbis.

        Container formats:
        - Ogg/ogm -- same camp as Vorbis and Theora
        - Matroska -- uses some binary-xml format for metadata. Seems to support at least

    • Don Pratt says... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GMonkeyLouie (1372035)

      "Don't listen to other people who make these claims. Either they're trying to hook up with you, or THEY'RE LAWYERS!!!"

      I'm also fairly certain that material that comes out of that office cannot be copyrighted, and I'm also certain that as long as the videos can be viewed by anyone, the videos have served their purpose.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by LostCluster (625375) *

      If you get work of the federal government from the government, there's no copyright and you can republish as will, or even make a derivative work.

      If you make a derivative work, such as adding a C-SPAN logo, or translating the file into a new format, you own the copyright on it. Don't like it? Go get the work from the government yourself and make your own.

      • As noted above in greater detail, this is not true. From our beloved Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

        A work of the United States government, as defined by United States copyright law, is "a work prepared by an officer or employee of the U.S. government as part of that person's official duties."[1] The term only applies to the work of the federal government, not state or local governments. In general, under section 105 of the Copyright Act,[2] such works are not entitled to domestic copyright protection under U.S. law, sometimes referred to as "noncopyright." As an exception to section 105, 15 U.S.C. Â 290e authorizes U.S. Secretary of Commerce to secure copyright for works produced by the Department of Commerce under the Standard Reference Data Act.[3]

        In addition, many publications of the U.S. government contain protectable works authored by others (e.g., patent applications, Securities and Exchange Commission filings, public comments on regulations, etc.), and this rule does not necessarily apply to the creative content of those works.

        Also, certain works, particularly logos of government agencies, while not copyrightable, are still protected by other laws similar in effect to trademark laws. Such laws are intended to protect indicators of source or quality. The Central Intelligence Agency logo, for example, cannot be used without permission. This is intended to prevent the appearance of endorsement, under the CIA Act of 1949.[4]

        The federal government can hold copyrights that are transferred to it. For example, in 1837, the federal government purchased former U.S. President James Madison's manuscripts from his widow, Dolley Madison, for $30,000;[5] if this is construed as covering copyright as well as the physical papers, it would be an example of such a transfer.[6] More common examples are works of independent contractors, where the contract specifies that the copyright is to be transferred to the government.

        This would also apply to works for hire. Government owns the copyright to the contracted work, but it does not become public domain. Further, as noted, the rule only applies to the federal government and not the government as a whole.

        I mentioned this in part above, but without references. Seems like it was about time to do so :) The wiki page cites good sources.

      • If you make a derivative work, such as adding a C-SPAN logo, or translating the file into a new format, you own the copyright on it.

        I call BS. Adding a logo isn't transformative enough to make the result a derivative work. I could see C-SPAN going after you for trademark infringement, but not copyright infringement.

    • Re:Stupid... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RobBebop (947356) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @12:41PM (#25976491) Homepage Journal

      material produced by the federal government of the United States is automatically public domain

      And where I work, YouTube is a blocked website that would prevent me from seeing Obama's messages. Something like transition.whitehouse.gov or speeches.whitehouse.gov would be a more suitable host for these videos.

      The new administration should attempt to disassociate itself with corporate giant Google and open standards running on websites that aren't regarded as "a giant waste of time" who's aim is to give every man, woman, and child (no matter how talentless) a platform to "Broadcast Yourself".

      • by MightyYar (622222)

        And where I work, YouTube is a blocked website that would prevent me from seeing Obama's messages.

        Wouldn't your work be just as opposed to your wasting your time and their bandwidth on Obama messages as on typical boring YouTube stuff?

        If you work for the DNC, I obviously retract :)

        • by RobBebop (947356)

          Wouldn't your work be just as opposed to your wasting your time and their bandwidth on Obama messages as on typical boring YouTube stuff?

          Oddly, there aren't filters stopping me from hitting Slashdot every couple of hours. I figure this is because it related to the type of technological work that I am involved with on the job. Believe it or not, this site is actually educational.

          Now, I'm sure the YouTube has some diamonds in the rough that are educational, too. But keeping up with a small amount of national politics shouldn't be something that employers tell their employees is off limits at work. Especially if their code is compiling [xkcd.com].

          • by MightyYar (622222)

            I was just giving you a rough time. I used to run a proxy server at home for my work internet browsing through the comfort of an SSH tunnel. :)

          • by homer_s (799572)
            But keeping up with a small amount of national politics shouldn't be something that employers tell their employees is off limits at work.

            Why not? From my perspective as an employer, it doesn't matter whether they watch stupid teenagers on youtube or equally stupid politicians on whitehouse.gov - every minute they spend on it is a minute where work is not getting done.
          • Believe it or not, this site is actually educational.

            You must be new here.

      • Agreed. I think it would be ok for Google to host, but the "Obama! Brought to you by Google" is exactly what is going on with YouTube hosting. I also think that YouTube is long overdue for artists to mark their work with a license that enables users to be granted the rights given by the author. In effect, CC work can not be posted on YouTube (in a way that respects the license). YouTube forces you to use their license for your work which is a part of their terms and conditions. I do not see why YouTube can
      • So, you are against anyone in government using big corporate giants like NBC to broadcast their messages as well? Shall we end televised debates?

    • by Dynedain (141758)

      If the Federal Government or contractors ran the cameras, edited, and digitized the footage, then it's a product of the Government and is subject to the public domain criteria you setup.

      However, if all the above were done by independent news-reporting corporations, then the copyright to that footage lies firmly in the hands of those corporations with the power to use or licenses them as they see fit.

    • IANAL, but it is worth noting that works for hire for the federal government, even though the copyright is held by the government, the work does not become public domain. Otherwise the government would be at a terrible disadvantage getting people to produce work for them, keeping in mind the government contracts out a LOT of work.

      Because the president is not a contractor, but in the employment of the government, he is granted no such protection. The most relevant statute on this was the argument over wheth
  • You do the work. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LostCluster (625375) * on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @12:27PM (#25976269)

    Since the Office of the President Elect (web address: Change.gov) is a federal government office, anything it produces is automatically in the public domain.

    But here's the problem with Lessig and company... it costs money to mount a video service, especially something that would be as popular as this is. If The Mozilla Foundation (main funder: Google) is willing to convert and host the videos, then the most likely could get the source from the governement. If they're complaining to YouTube (owner: Google) to change their ways, then they're just biting the hand that feeds them.

    • This just irks me (Score:5, Informative)

      by Shivetya (243324) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @12:40PM (#25976479) Homepage Journal

      Since when is there an "Office of the President Elect" let alone a seal. Whose ego is driving this anyway?

      First, he isn't even the President elect until the 15th (or whenever the electors cast their vote) though the vote is not in doubt, it just is factual to declare the title is not applicable yet.

      Second, there is no office of the President Elect, there is no authority other than what the current President grants; I doubt it is even legal for the sitting President to do so.

      I don't want to sound like part of the tinfoil hat crowd but all this wrapping oneself in an air of authority/royalty really is marketing gone amok or an ego gone amok. I hope its the marketing side because if its the later we are not in for a good four years.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TheSpoom (715771) *

        I think it makes sense to have a transition website. Calling it an "Office" is simply semantics, and I don't think he means to imply any sort of authority (note that he's repeatedly said that he respects the current administration's control until the inauguration).

        Posting his communications on the campaign website wouldn't make much sense because it's no longer a campaign.

        Not having a website at all would be completely at odds with the need to communicate with the people.

        What would you suggest he do?

      • Re:This just irks me (Score:5, Informative)

        by Atlantis-Rising (857278) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @01:21PM (#25977061) Homepage

        I imagine his office is acting under the aegis of the Presidential Transition Act of 1963 which allows the General Services Administration to provide offices, funding, training etc. to the person who 'apparently' won the election.

        It is not necessary for the electors to have voted, and the Presidential Transition Act is a congressional statute.

        • And where is it permitted by the Constitution to use my tax money to fund the transition of someone who has been determined by MSNBC's exit polling to have won the election to some statistical comfort level?

          (Ooooh, I'm such a buzz-kill!)

          • Well, funding the transition of the old president to the new is pretty fundamental. I can't see you arguing about that.

            So your argument must be that, in fact, the electors could theoretically elect someone completely different to the presidency!

            Yeah, that'll go over well.

            • If the process laid out by the Constitution doesn't "go over well", then there is a very clear process to change the rules. What is your objection to that?

              CNN's statistics unit does not elect our president. Those are not the rules.

      • by whoop (194)

        Don't forget he's got a seal on his podium that's quite close to the presidential seal (bald eagle with arrows, feathers).

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        Obama has been very clear that he's not the President yet. As most commentators have pointed out, the only thing he can do right now is talk to people, and that's the only thing he's trying to do. His press conferences seem to be pretty much "here's who I'm planning on hiring, here's what I'm going to want them to do."

        As I see it, the "Office of the President-Elect" is simply a formal name for all the people that are either on his transition team or are expected to become part of his staff or cabinet. It ha

      • There is an Office of the President Elect funded by the federal budget (for every change of power since the 1960s) currently under the GSA. Obama right now has no power when it comes to laws, but the office is a launching pad for press events so Obama can announce what he will do the moment he goes into power. Executive branch political appointees need to be hired in advance, and some have stock-market moving potential so it's better the news come out slowly than all at once.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by TheoMurpse (729043)

        As for whether he's the President Elect or not, I'd like to quote the Presidential Transition Act of 1963, which created the office:

        The term[] "President-elect" . . . as used in this Act shall mean such person[] as [is] the apparent successful candidate[] for the office of the President . . . as ascertained by the Administrator following the general elections held to determine the electors of the President and Vice-President in accordance with title 3, United States code, sections 1 and 2. (Emphasis added.)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cayenne8 (626475)
        "First, he isn't even the President elect until the 15th (or whenever the electors cast their vote) though the vote is not in doubt..."

        Well, maybe not necessarily [kansascity.com], and I can't find the links now, but, I thought I'd read weeks ago, that Justice Souter had requested a copy of the real Birth Certificate for Obama, and not just a certificate of live birth (apparently there is a difference).

        Man...talk about interesting if somehow Obama was ruled to not be natural born in the US. What would happen? New electio

        • You know, that's just sad. [snopes.com]

          Ahem, "(Contrary to various e-mails, Barack Obama has not "been ordered to produce his birth certificate by December 1"; that is simply the response date set for one of the several related filings still working its way through the U.S. court system.) "

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheSpoom (715771) *

      *Is* the Office of the President Elect a part of the federal government, though? AFAIK it's being run by the Obama-Biden Transition Project, which certainly isn't a federal office, regardless of it being hosted on a .gov domain.

      That said, Obama et al have responded to Lessig just a little while ago in making Change.gov licensed under CC-BY, rather than just a straight copyright [lessig.org]. (You can also view the Change.gov copyright policy page [change.gov].) Once again, I'm surprised and kinda shocked by how quickly they will

      • I think that technically putting that kind of restriction on the work is not legal, but at the same time I don't think anyone is going to complain, not to mention that, going out on a IANAL limb here, violations of statute must be proven to violate the spirit of the law. Best example I heard of this, pedestrians are required to walk facing traffic if there is no sidewalk; however, if that would be more dangerous than walking with traffic, then there is no violation of statute because the law was intended to
    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      You could just add the link : http://www.downloadyoutubevideos.com/ [downloadyo...videos.com] The law allows anyone to do this, reformat it into something else and publish it. I agree the government ought to do this, but there are worse ways of releasing a video than Youtube.
      • by TheSpoom (715771) *

        The law allows anyone to do this, reformat it into something else and publish it.

        You were right until you said "and publish it". Copyright protects the right to republish something. Creating a copy in a new media type is usually protected by fair use exemptions, but you don't have the right to republish it unless explicitly granted.

        • Creating a copy in a new media type is usually protected by fair use exemptions

          Fair Use is an affirmative defense, not a right, making this a difficult and sadly weak "protection". However, I believe that it was actually the DMCA that explicitly granted rights to backups and copies for te purpose of interoperability. The tricky part is the conflict with the necessity for DRM circumvention to meet those ends and particularly the legality of publishing the methods or software for doing so.

      • Technically, not quite.

        See, C-SPAN gets its material primarily from government sources. However, the fact they're adding a C-SPAN bug and transmitting it to you means it's theirs to put a copyright on. If you want to make your own newscast with congressional footage, you have to either find the C-Band feed that C-SPAN gets, or ask C-SPAN if you could use theirs. (C-SPAN loves getting their bug out everywhere though, so they usually let people have what they want.)

    • here's the problem with Lessig and company... it costs money to mount a video service, especially something that would be as popular as this is

      Put it in a torrent. Besides costing almost nothing, that would send another, very important, message: it's not illegal to use P2P.

  • by h4x354x0r (1367733) on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @12:30PM (#25976327)
    And everyone else I know can, too. It's very ubiquitous. If "open/free" makes it any more difficult to access than YouTube, it's toast. With Jelly. And peanut butter. Yum!
    • And everyone else I know can, too. It's very ubiquitous.

      Isn't youtube frequently blocked by mainland china?
      What about the ultra-conservative countries in the middle-east?
      And Myanmar?

      If we are going to start leading by example rather than "do what I say, not what I do" then we have a vested interest in getting information about us out to the rest of world, especially the worst parts of the rest of the world.

  • by byolinux (535260) * on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @12:31PM (#25976341) Journal

    Nice. Something ever so slightly silly about that.

  • Here we have another example of ideology trumping practicality. It costs Obama next to nothing to post the videos to Youtube. Just about anyone with a computer can view them there, and there are programs out there that can download the videos on Youtube.

    There would be a lot more work in putting the videos into an open and downloadable format as they would then have to host them somewhere. Not to mention, there are a lot more people surfing Youtube rather than, say, any of the government's sites. To p
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      there are a lot more people surfing Youtube rather than, say, any of the government's sites

      That's not a convincing argument. You don't "surf youtube", you go there because there's a link from somewhere else. And you're not going to view the videos unless you're actively looking for them, or have them pointed out.

      But I agree, ideology is trumping practicality here, but I think Lessig's trying to make a point.

      • If we are talking practicality, what is the practicality in posting a weekly YouTube address? People want to know what he is doing and thinking, and I'd even go as far to say that he likely loves listening to the sound of his own voice, but I don't think that is the objective here. I think he sees a bigger picture.
    • Have you seen Change.gov, the official transition website? I doubt converting and linking a few more video files is "impractical" or "too much work" given the obvious technical ability behind that site.

      Openness is not "getting the word out", it is making sure information sought by the public is available. YouTube has no contract with the government to provide hosting service, other than a lopsided EULA. You have no assurance of transparency which is the root of the request in question.

      Back to the point-

    • I am somewhat sadly inclined to agree with your very practical insight. Public Domain means "do what you like, if you can get it". Obama has been trying to do more, and is a big supporter of open / transparent government, and wants to show people how that can help make government better. If he was looking for cheap and simple, he would just get Fox, CNBC or whoever to come in and tape him and just let someone else put it on YouTube. Remember, he kept Lessig on staff as a chief technology advisor; I doubt th
    • While I would agree that not hosting on Youtube would be dumb, depending entirely on a service that might implode one day isn't really the best idea either, and a secondary hosting with a .mpeg and .oga (I think? whatever .oggs counterpart is) file for each won't be costly as long as youtube keeps running.

    • by Urza9814 (883915)

      Well, they could put it on Google Video, which already hosts a lot of government videos and which allows downloading in MP4 format. Now, I'm not entirely sure how open MP4 is, but it's a hell of a lot better than flash. I mean, at least I can view it without a plugin - for the first several months after installing an OS I generally don't have flash installed. It takes me that long to find a decent reason to install the damn thing. Usually I just prefer not having it, and not dealing with the annoying ads an

  • The weekly videos are a step in the right direction. But I was hoping to see more frequent communications from a variety of different faces on the transition team, talking about their progress and the work they're doing.

    I just want to see open and honest government, and a three minute communique every week doesn't really do that for me. I liked the press conference Monday, but I feel like I want to be able to see more. I want my government to finally be accountable!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      I just want to see open and honest government

      I hate to disillusion you, young fellow, but I've been voting since Nixon was in office and I think you'll see unicorns before you see an open and honest US Federal Government.

      • by rssrss (686344)

        MCGrew is correct. Further, Obamatrons, you have been played. The permanent government is back in the saddle and ready to ride. Nothing is going to change. Nothing at all. Now, go back to your video games.

      • by GryMor (88799)

        On the subject of unicorns, I wonder what it would take to splice the narwhal genes for their tusk into a horse?

  • I don't see any issues here.
    Anything made by the government should already be available with an open license, and I'm pretty sure that YouTube will be willing to bend a few policies for the President of the United States if they are asked.
    I also don't think that it would be difficult for someone working with Obama to just convert the videos to various open formats and put them up on the official White House website, as well as YouTube so Joe the Plumber can watch them easily. (Most people wouldn't watch t
  • it also says to download the article in "pdf" format.

    where is the "standard, universal format" ?

    it makes me think it's just an article to ripe on you tube.
    • by MightyYar (622222)

      PDF is an open standard, and there are numerous legal free viewers.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      it also says to download the article in "pdf" format.

      where is the "standard, universal format" ?

      I RTFA and it was HTML, not PDF. Where's your PDF link? I see no PDF links from either the article or the summary.

    • PDF is a standard, universal, format. The standard document can be downloaded by anyone with no fees and can be implemented by anyone. There are six independent implementations of the standard that I know of, and possibly others.
  • How much ad revenue has YouTube made off of ChangeDotGov fireside chats? I know the particular page has no ads on it, but the press they are getting is phenomenal. Also visitors who path through the site to get to ChangeDotGov are generating revenue for them.

    If Obama wants to be fair to commerce he shouldn't align his content solely with YouTube.
    • by droopycom (470921)

      How much the Networks, Cable News Channels and Newspapers are making on ads revenues as a result of government actions ?

      Geez, how much did they make thanks to the iraq war news coverage ?

      Why should we care if YouTube if making a buck out of a *Service* they are rendering to you as a citizen (making it easy to find information about what your governement is doing) and as a taxpayer (making it easy and cheap for the government to publish) ?

  • According to this version of blip.tv's wikipedia article, [wikipedia.org] Lessig has praised blip.tv [www.blip.tv] for already meeting some of these standards.

    In general, blip.tv is an open platform. It offers direct download links for all videos it hosts, including videos that it has transcoded (i.e. Flash videos). This led Creative Commons founder Larry Lessig to call blip.tv a "true sharing site" (along with Flickr and Eyespot, among others) in contrast to YouTube's "fake sharing site" because blip.tv "explicitly offers links to down

  • that i with lessig can now ask people online if theyre "down with OTP"
  • No Legal Barrier to Sharing
    Both Senator McCain and President-elect Obama endorsed this principle in the context of presidential debate video rights. The same principle should apply to the transition. Change.gov now respects this principle

    Seems to be no problem there

    No Technological Barrier to Sharing
    For example, while content may be posted on a particular site such as YouTube, because YouTube does not authorize videos on its site to be downloaded, transition-created content should also be made available on

    • As a lawyer rather than a technologist, perhaps Professor Lessig doesn't realise that a YouTube video must be downloaded to be viewed, at least in a manner that would have the RIAA sue you if it was one of their copyrighted works.

      Perhaps as a technologist rather than a lawyer, you don't realize that this claim is untrue. Even the RIAA is not so stupid as to attempt to reopen the cached copy issue. Streaming media, regardless of browser caching, is not a reproduction until and unless it is copied from the cache to a normal, persistent directory. In the case of YouTube, neither are you distributing if you're simply a viewer. A torrent is a different story.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I really don't understand #3 at all. If it's free, and in the public domain as other commenters have pointed out, what's the problem?

      The issue with #3 is fair competition. For example, they might release a video press release to the major network, and then a day later post a lower-quality version on their website for download. In this case, the major networks were receiving preferential treatment (both because they were given earlier access and access to a higher-quality version).

      The point is that in addition to openness, there should be fairness: the content should be made available to everyone (citizens, news outlets, corporations,

    • As a lawyer rather than a technologist, perhaps Professor Lessig doesn't realise that a YouTube video must be downloaded to be viewed, at least in a manner that would have the RIAA sue you if it was one of their copyrighted works.

      The RIAA would most likely lose that case. More relevant is the question of the legality and practicality of saving those YouTube videos and sharing them, or of using them in any way other than simply viewing them. For instance, the videos may be licensed under creative commons, but how easy is it to pull a clip from a YouTube video and put it in another video?

      Point is, there's nothing wrong with putting it on YouTube to make it easy for most people, who don't care about these things. It might be nice if th

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        For instance, the videos may be licensed under creative commons

        There is no license; they're public domain.

        • Thanks.

          Doesn't change my point -- what's the point of public-domaining them when there are so few results of this which are both legal and practical?

          Public domain, like open source, requires more than just a license.

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            Since the works are in the public domain, there's no reason to complain about them being hosted -- just host them!

            • I'm not complaining about the lack of hosting. But you're suggesting that in order to host them, I should violate patent law and/or the DMCA in order to convert them from the proprietary formats you've mentioned into a sufficiently open format to host them?

              Or are you suggesting that I spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on encoding/mastering software, just to make this supposedly-public-domain work more accessible? Shouldn't that be their job?

              I'm not saying that I, personally, am so adverse to breaking t

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thtrgremlin (1158085)

      perhaps Professor Lessig doesn't realize that a YouTube video must be downloaded to be viewed, at least in a manner that would have the RIAA sue you if it was one of their copyrighted works.

      Not only does Lessig understand this, he wrote a book addressing the issue, aside from it being a note in most everything he does; Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace. He mentions in a number of speeches and such that copyright is a law that comes into effect when a 'copy' is made. "Reading a book, sharing a book, selling a book, and sleeping on a book don't make copies, so there no 'trigger' for copyright law". What has thrown the whole system into chaos is that in the digital world "every act creates a copy

  • by jsjacob (94841) <jsjacob@iamnota.com> on Wednesday December 03, 2008 @01:00PM (#25976765) Homepage

    This week the videos are available in MPEG4 format. Is that open enough?

    http://change.gov/newsroom/blog/ [change.gov]

  • Do people really care about this? Are the transition team videos something people are clamoring for? They seem to be of very little value unless you need some change/hope porn to get your fix now that the election is over.
    • by Microlith (54737)

      Yes, and they shouldn't.

      They should be watching American Idol and remain totally oblivious to the actions being taken by the administration that is currently forming and preparing to assume power in the Federal Government. Equally, the Obama administration is going about this totally the wrong way. How can they possibly run the government with everything in the open like that. Merely not recording it isn't good enough, they should do like the Bush administration and hide as many things as they can, being as

      • by FooGoo (98336)
        Who will hold him accountable? Who help Bush accountable, who held Clinton accountable, who held all the rest accountable. The problem is not transparency the problems in there is no one to hold any politician accountable....they certainly don't fear the public. The only time politicians are held accountable is when their usefulness to those who crave power is at an end...then their peers and supporters turn on them. Politicians stay in power by being useful to those crave power and that does not lend itsel
  • We're working on the assumption that Title 17 USC 105 applies to these works as results of official duties of an officer or employee of the United States Government, which would make the videos produced public domain content.

    We have volunteers posting them onto Bittorrent now:
    http://beta.legaltorrents.com/creators/101-changegov [legaltorrents.com]

    and notifications go out onto Twitter, Facebook, and onto custom RSS and email feeds to our members on LegalTorrents

  • I though that This Development [wikinews.org] essentially made this a none issue? Am I missing something?
  • Her: "Is there a way you can save videos off of youtube and watch them later?"
    Me: "i'm sure there's some browser plugin or other 3rd party tool that lets you do it, but I don't think youtube allows it explicitly. Why?"
    Her: "I want to download and save all of the Obama videos. I'm worried that they're going to change or disappear later"

    There are a surprising number of videos that get axed from youtube for what would appear to be politically motivated reasons.

    The ease of changing or erasing information in t

  • by cdrguru (88047)

    First off, is the transition team a government entity? Does it in reality have any association with the US Government at all? I suspect it does not. Therefore, all the yammering about the videos being in the public domain may not apply at all. The videos may be created by an independent contractor paid for as part of the non-governmental transition. The transition team is not paid by taxpayer funds, you know...

    If these videos are in fact public domain, then I can create my own version of them. For hum

  • Obama should tell all media that while they are free to make any recordings (still, audio, video) they wish to of him - since he's a public figure - but that all such recordings - the portions including him - must be fully Open and public domain if they want to use his image/voice for their commercial benefit.

    Any "internet lawyers" who'd care to comment on the legalities/illegalities of that?

  • One thing that G W Bush got right is at http://www.whitehouse.gov/rss [whitehouse.gov] you can download thousands of speeches by G W Bush.

    I hope EVERY talk Obama gives will be posted. History deserves this record, and the noise media will do everything they can to prevent it. (recall the copyright suits over "The Prise.")

    Andy

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